When the party encounters a solitary and strong monster, should the GM state the monster's HP and armor? Or are all the calculations made by the GM secretly and represented only in the fiction ("He starts to tumble, maybe due to blood loss?" etc.).

In other words: Do the player know how many HP a monster has left or are they guessing until the monster drops dead?

This is for typical monsters found anywhere, not named monsters with an outstanding story.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Unless my mind is failing me, I'm fairly certain that a PC is the actual in-world characters. They would have no knowledge of any meta information (hp, armor, str, dex, etc) and even if you provided it, it'd mean nothing to them... I assume you mean the players themselves, rather than the Player's Characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doc
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 16:57
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ You keep accepting answers about DW that are wrong in ways obvious to experienced DW GMs. I have to wonder if you've fallen into the common trap of skimming or ignoring the GM section? If you have, be aware that you're missing something like 90% of the game's core rules. We're happy to answer questions about house ruling DW, but you should be clearer about that in future questions if you don't want answers for the game as designed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 19:57

2 Answers 2


Short Answer

The characters don't know, so there's no need to tell their players.

But why's that?

Your GM principles should give you your answer here:

  • Address the characters, not the players.
  • Begin and end with the fiction
  • Give every monster life

Remember, your principles and agendas are rules just like HP and armor.

If you're telling the players the HP and armor of their enemies then you're breaking all three of these principles. The characters don't and shouldn't know that the Goblin over there has 3HP and 1-armor, because those aren't a part of the fiction, they're just numbers to help us interact with it. Likewise to give your monster life you need to describe it. What's more interesting?

You see a dragon on a pile of gold in the cave ahead, it has 16hp and 5-armor and it's coming towards you. What do you do?


Entering the cave the stink of smoke and roasted flesh greets you and laying comfortably atop a pile of gold is a huge red-scaled dragon, currently devouring a helpless goblin. Finishing his meal casually the dragon gets to his feet before you, that fang-laced grin that only a dragon could achieve wide across his wedge-shaped head. "Foolish Adventurers" he says in a voice that rumbles like thunder "Do you really think you are the first to try and claim my hoard? My hide has turned aside all blades brought forth against it and yours will fare no better." As he speaks you can't help but notice the myriad of shallow, harmless scrapes that mark his inch-thick scales. Smoke curls from his nostrils and his eyes gleam with menace as he takes a step towards you, leaving you feeling like a mouse staring down a cat... A huge, flying, armored, fire breathing cat that enjoys playing with his food. What do you do?

I know which one would have me reconsidering how much I wanted that treasure.

It's important to note here that the 16HP and 5-armor aren't what make a dragon a terrifying opponent, with a bit of luck a pair of level 1 characters could bring him down quite quickly if they just kept making Hack&Slash rolls until he dropped. No, the dragon is powerful because it's a goddamn dragon. A typical sword would need to find a weak spot (perhaps the belly) to even have a chance of piercing its hide at all and to make that attack the character would have to get close enough: avoiding the fiery breath, slashing claws and biting maw on the way.

Interesting Reading:

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    \$\begingroup\$ Where do you live and do you want to join our sessions? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ender
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 0:42

First of all, the PCs never know any of these. HP and stats are an abstract meta concept and can ever only be known to the players.

Personally, I do not tell my players the stats of a monster.

However, monster stats are easily figured out by the players anyway. Monster stats are defined by the fiction. When you build a monster according to the rules, you describe what it looks like and what it acts like. Then you assign it the appropriate stats as written in the rules. As a result, if your players read the rules, they will know the approximate stats of a monster as soon as you describe it in the fiction. Some stats are easily figured out from play, even if you don't know the rules, like the damage and piercing.

In DungeonWorld, however, the difficulty of a fight is not primarily established by the stats of a monster, but rather by the description of the monster in the fiction. For example, a skilled and devious Goblin with 6HP and d6 damage can prove a much harder enemy than a dumb and clumsy Orc with 20HP and d10+5 damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not a big fan of the downvote, but I felt I had to here. With the section about it being opinion-based, this answer I think is flatly wrong. I will happily remove the DV in the event of a suitable edit. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is maybe a good practice, but you should call it with its name: houseruling. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Stats or no stats should not effect a GMs description. The game always consists of mix of fiction and meta. Meta doesn't effect how I spout fiction, nor should it for my players. Meta being handled back and forth between GM and PC does not harm the game. Sometimes they need a meta description of their game world for admin purposes. In large skirmishes, I offload meta admin to my PCs. I agree, whether I tell them or they figure out how many HP a goblin has and track it anyway. I have enough to run without full on secretarial duties to boot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roger
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 17:08

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